In week four the Nittany Lions welcome the Kent State Golden Flashes to Beaver Stadium in what is sure to be an exciting affair. The Golden Flashes are coming off an outstanding 11-3 season but will be without the services of former Head Coach Darrell Hazell who is now in charge of a team Penn State is very familiar with, the Purdue Boilermakers. However, a slew of returning starters means Kent State are sure to be a stern test for a young Nittany Lion bunch.
- Coach - Paul Haynes, 1st year
- 2012 Record – 12-2
- Key Departures - QB Spencer Keith , WR Matthew Hurdle, LT Brian Winters, DE Jake Dooley, LB Luke Batton
- Key Returnees -RB Dri Archer, RB Trayion Durham, WR Tyshon Goode, DT Roosevelt Nix, S Luke Wollet
The success of the 2013 Kent State Golden Flashes will likely ride solely on the shoulders of two men. Dri Archer and Trayion Durham were an absolute nightmare for opponents last season, and were a huge reason why the Golden Flashes were one win away from reaching a BCS bowl. Both rushed for well over 1,000 yards while Archer added an additional 561 receiving yards to his tally. Archer averaged an astonishing 9 yards per carry last season and is a threat to take it the distance every time he handles the ball. At just 5’8 175 pounds, he has already drawn comparisons to his NFL counterparts Tavon Austin and Darren Sproles. Both Archer and Durham should help to mitigate the loss of Quarterback Spencer Keith, who himself ran for 5 touchdowns last season while adding another 12 through the air.
Senior David Fisher heads into the season as the leading candidate to replace Keith. Fisher saw limited game action last season, complete 14 of 23 passes for 230 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. You can look for him to target Archer early and often as well Tyshon Goode, the team’s top receiver. Fisher’s first season under center will likely see a lot of him turning around and handing the ball off, especially with the high caliber backs the Golden Flashes possess. While Kent possess plenty of fire power on the ground, they may struggle to come from behind in games with Hazell out, a new Quarterback in and a completely reworked offensive line.
The Golden Flashes possess a solid, if not stellar defensive unit. The loss of leading tackler Luke Batton will do nothing to help a defense that conceded 24.5 points per game last season, including 47 in an embarrassing 33 point loss to a rather soft Kentucky team in week 2. While Defensive Tackle Roosevelt Nix was able to wreak havoc on most MAC teams last season, the 5’11 245 pound senior is incredibly undersized for his position and could struggle when lined up across the likes of John Urschel. The Golden Flashes were only able to get to the Quarterback 26 times last season for an average of 2 per game. They’ll need to up that rate if they want to truly contend for a spot in the top 16 of the BCS rankings and a chance to play in one of the coveted BCS bowl games.
Though porous at times, the Kent State defense was able to force an astonishing 29 turnovers last season, first among MAC teams. 6 of those came from returning Safety Luke Wollet, who will look to make either Tyler Ferguson or Christian Hackenberg’s life a nightmare whilst looking down field. Wollet and Defensive Back Darius Polk are the two returning members of the Golden Flashes ball hawking defensive backfield.
Even with Archer and Durham returning it’s hard to imagine Kent State replicating the success they found last season. Hazell played a huge role in taking the program to new heights which explains why the new Purdue man was so highly coveted by those around the country. The offense is sure to put up plenty of points, however I just don’t see the already shaky defense getting any better. If they do succeed, expect Archer’s name to be all over shortlists for national awards, though you can expect it’ll be far more likely for the Golden Flashes to finish somewhere around the 7 or 8 win mark this season.
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Tickets begin at only $46 for the September 21st match up against Kent State, according to Razorgator. You can find tickets for any game this season by checking out the NCAA football schedule. The highest get-in price at Beaver Stadium this year is for the October 12th meting against Michigan. If you’re bargain-hunting, you can see the Nittany Lions face off against the Boilermakers of Purdue for only $39 on November 16th.